Deadly electrocution results from homemade wood burning device; family warns others

Steve Chapman

Miles Gaddy (left) poses for a picture with his mother, Ginger Velasco, his daughter, Mylah, and his brother Rudy Velasco, Jr.

Left, Velasco, shows the homemade wood burning device her son was using when he was electrocuted. (Photos submitted)

2001 Mt. Vernon graduate Gaddy remembered as happy, compassionate
On Thursday, Dec. 5, Miles Gaddy was working in his grandfather’s workshop in Mt. Vernon, using a device he’d built from a microwave transformer, wires and clamps to burn a Lichtenberg figure onto a wooden stool when he accidentally touched a metal table and was electrocuted, dying almost instantly. He was 36.
Gaddy had used the wood burning device he’d created several times without incident. His grandfather had asked him about it once, but Gaddy insisted it was safe.
“My dad had actually seen him out there one day,” Ginger Velasco, Gaddy’s mother, said, “and said, ‘Miles, that’s a little dangerous, isn’t it?’ He said, ‘Oh, no, Pop. I’ve done it many a times.’”
However, it was just touching that metal table one time while using the device that caused his death.
 “I believe that if he hadn’t touched the metal table with his left hand, then he would (be alive),” Velasco said.
Now, Velasco said she hopes that those who use homemade devices like Gaddy’s will stop and buy safer professionally-made tools instead.
“Don’t be rigging up stuff, because it will take you,” she said. “Buy the stuff at the store that you use.”
Though he is no more, Velasco hopes Gaddy’s story will spare another mother from having to lose a son the way she lost hers.
 “If this could save someone’s life, it will be worth it,” she said.
Gaddy, a 2001 graduate of Mt. Vernon High School, is remembered as friendly and outgoing. Velasco also said Gaddy’s kindness was not limited to friends. She recounted a time when he picked up a hitchhiker and gave him a lift into town. Velasco said her son noticed the man didn’t have adequate clothing for the weather, so he gave the hitchhiker his jacket and shoes.
“He said, ‘Mom, I looked down at his shoes and noticed he had duct tape holding his shoes together. Also, he didn’t have a jacket but was wearing just a long sleeve.’ They arrived at Kum-n-Go in Mt. Vernon, and before the guy got out Miles said, ‘What size of shoe do you wear?’ The guy replied, ‘Any size.’ Miles gave him the shoes he had on and also gave him the jacket he had on. The guy gave Miles a hug and said, ‘You’re a good ol’ boy.’ (He) never saw him again. That’s the kind guy Miles was.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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